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Research Methods in Social Work

Course Code: SOWK 4160
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Social Work
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course prepares students to evaluate and apply research to social work practice and policy development. Students will examine how qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods contribute to knowledge and understanding the limits of knowledge. Students will develop a research question and apply knowledge of research design (ethical issues, recruitment, sampling, data collection, data analysis) to that question.

Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content.

  • Best practices in social work include the integration of research into practice.
  • Professional development requires the ongoing review of new knowledge on topics related to social work practice and the issues relevant to clients.
  • Practitioners must be able to critically evaluate the quality of research design and findings for quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research, and demonstrate discernment when integrating research into practice.
  • Practitioners’ understanding of the limits of knowledge is essential to best practice.
  • Research methods have ethical implications and methods employed by social workers in research are congruent with social work values.
  • Research topics and design are influenced by personal, temporal, and historical factors.

Methods of Instruction

Group work
Experiential classroom activities
Audio-visual presentations.

Means of Assessment

Written papers
Research proposal
Classroom activities and participation

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Produce a literature review (from on-line databases and/or printed journals) relevant to social work;
  2. Review and critique research methods described in published research articles;
  3. Articulate a research question;
  4. Apply principles of ethical research design and methods to create an outline for a research proposal;
  5. Apply qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research methodologies/ methods to create a research design;
  6. Identify the best statistical analysis for a research design;
  7. Demonstrate reflexivity with regard to a chosen research topic and design.

course prerequisites

PSYC 2300, or MATH 1160, or BUSN 2429, or GEOG 2251, or equivalent.





curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.